Michael Horton is Country Manager of Australia & New Zealand at HCL Technologies, a technology consultancy and services company with over 200,000 employees worldwide. Hot on the heels of being named an industry leader in ESG by Sustainalytics, Consultancy.org spoke with Horton about why and how the firm leads the way.
What do you believe are the most important environmental issues companies need to focus on today?
Today, climate change is building as a major issue affecting individuals and businesses globally. Climate change is causing changes to our well-being, stress, weather, costs, oceans, natural and built environment.
These impacts affect business at all levels of the supply chain. Companies are under increasing pressure from their staff, suppliers, and network to act on climate change and to put measures in place to ensure they are either reducing their carbon footprint or are environmentally conscious.
Climate change is not all negative news, it can also offer business, brand, cost reduction, and employer brand opportunities. Climate change can spur innovation and inspire new products and services which are less carbon-intensive and environmentally friendly. By focusing on climate change, businesses can foster competitiveness and unlock new market opportunities.
At HCL Technologies, we act in the most responsible and sustainable way, providing a harmonious workplace for our employees and using every resource efficiently to maximize value. This is the foundation of our pact with all stakeholders, with whom we build initiatives that deliver long lasting impact.
Why should tech companies make sustainability a priority for their business?
In the current tech environment, technology companies are focusing on reducing their impact on the environment and preserving natural resources.
Aside from just environmental benefits, focusing on sustainability can attract new customers. Promoting environmentally friendly methods is a good way to separate your business from competitors and show key stakeholders that you are taking a proactive approach to reduce carbon footprint and work towards net zero ways of doing business.
Reducing the environmental impact of your business can also improve the sustainability of your business. By going green, tech companies can play a significant role in correcting the impact of climate change by implementing ESG initiatives.
Over the past few years, environmental issues have encroached on tech businesses’ capacity to create value for their customers, partners, and stakeholders. Managing climate-related risks and creating opportunities for business growth and intertwined and companies need to understand this.
Tech companies on the quest for sustainability are leading the way and transforming the competitive landscape, which will, in turn, change the way the tech industry thinks about products, technologies, processes, and business models.
How is HCL Technologies tackling ESG in a unique way to other tech companies?
HCL Technologies is tackling ESG by focusing on climate change and eco-efficiency in the business globally. With over 200,000 people in 52 countries, HCL Technologies has the opportunity to drive change and set an example. This involves reducing scope 1 (direct emissions from owned or controlled sources) and scope 2 (indirect emissions from the generation of purchased electricity).
We aim to transition to 80 percent renewable energy for electricity usage by 2030 accompanied by a goal to achieve zero waste landfills by 2025.
From a social perspective, the main social priorities are human capital, local hiring, diversity and inclusion, and talent and retention. These priorities are on their way to being achieved by improving ESG knowledge and the knowledge pool of employees.
HCL also aims to improve gender diversity within the company with a target of 40 percent of women representing the workforce by 2030, and a focus on increasing gender representation in senior leadership, with a target of 30 percent of women in senior leadership levels by 2030.
The company takes a holistic approach to governance with a focus on sustainable procurement, government, and ethics with a sustainable impact on clients and IT security. We aim to achieve these objectives by strengthening the sustainable supply chain process and being recognized as an industry leader in information security practices and data privacy standards.
HCL Technologies is one of the signatories of the Climate Pledge. Can you tell us more?
The key to effective sustainability initiatives is building these into your strategy. The Climate Pledge is HCL Technologies’ commitment to sustainability and reducing its carbon footprint. This environmental initiative founded by Amazon and global optimism is to achieve a net-zero carbon footprint by 2040. Companies that sign the pledge commit to three areas of action: regular reporting, carbon elimination, and credible offsets.
We have undertaken this initiative as part of a focused drive to integrate sustainability initiatives. By signing the climate pledge, HCL Technologies hopes to demonstrate real changes that will help in the efforts to reduce carbon emissions.
What is one stand-out example of HCL Technologies efforts towards sustainability?
Water security has never been more urgent. With the global population set to hit 8.5 billion by 2030, pressure is increasing on the world’s limited supply of fresh water. By 2030, the global demand for water will have exceeded sustainable supply by 40%.
In addition to immediate and dire consequences to people’s health and food production, a lack of access to clean water can limit economic growth by up to one-third, as well as have adverse effects on natural biodiversity and social fabrics. Governments and businesses must bring freshwater to the forefront of their strategies, and innovation will play a key role in their success.
To drive the freshwater conservation and management agenda, we have partnered with UpLink, the open innovation platform of the World Economic Forum that connects highly-promising start-ups with the partners and funding they need to scale. Through a $15 million investment over five years, HCL will help accelerate the innovation agenda for water and create a first-of-its-kind innovation ecosystem for the global freshwater sector on UpLink, called the ‘Aquapreneur Innovation Initiative’.
This initiative will draw on HCL’s own regional experience of driving innovative projects in water conservation and brings global leaders and champions together, to foster multi-stakeholder collaboration. In building this ecosystem, water entrepreneurs will be able to thrive and influence freshwater ecosystems all over the world.
Anything else you would like to add?
I would also like to mention HCL Technologies’ sustainability initiatives aligning with the Science Based Target Initiatives (SBTi). The SBTi mobilizes companies to set science-based targets in line with the latest climate change issues, meeting the goals of the Paris agreement. The purpose of SBTi is to promote the best practices in science-based targets and independently assess and approve companies’ targets.
HCL Technologies is in line with the SBTi targets, to implement renewables, emerge efficient buildings, eco-efficiency, electrical vehicles, reduced emission from purchased goods and services and nature-based sequestering projects.
These sustainability initiatives are an integral part of HCL Technologies’ future in reducing our carbon footprint and environmental impact.
About Michael Horton
Michael Horton joined HCL Technologies in 2014 and is the Executive Vice President and Country Manager for Australia & New Zealand. His responsibilities include client relations, sales, revenue and margin, as well as overseeing the delivery of the company’s full range of services to all sectors.
Prior to joining HCL, he was Industry Director at CSC for the mining, oil & gas, transport and utilities sectors in Australia, Asia, Middle East and Africa.